April 20, 2009
Blessed are They who Get the Company of Saints
Be not disturbed by occurrences in worldly life, or troubles of fate, nor any upadhi; to be unmoved by these is true samadhi. A shadow is not washed and cleansed even if it falls on mud or dirt; that applies to the body, too, but the saints alone are able to realize this. Divest yourself of all desire, keep your mind clear, unprejudiced, and innocent, like a child’s. It will be your highest achievement if you maintain your discriminative power alive and awake and keep the mind occupied in nama. Thorough contentment will be your reward if you still vagrant, futile fancies, and keep the mind busily engaged in Rama-nama. A perfect sadhu is one who surrenders himself completely to God, and who is delightfully engrossed in the contemplation of God. Enjoy peace of mind by burning all urge of desire and relinquishing all awareness of self. Believe honestly that you belong only to Rama and that He belongs to you.
One who abandons the ‘body-am-I’ feeling can alone profit by association with a saint. Do not attach importance to the body or bodily action of a saint; you have to transcend your own body-consciousness in order truly to comprehend Him. To have love for nama is the mark of a saint. Saints really make life fruitful for those who honestly associate with them. Even after the physical body of a saint dies, his influence on the world continues to act. So we remember him and seek to serve him day and night. Blessed, indeed, are they who live in association with a saint. One who has unflinching faith in a saint will definitely attain to God. Keep your attention riveted on a saint even while your body maybe attending to worldly business.
Saints never forget that Rama is the real doer, and therefore they can guide others. We should have darshan of a saint, and follow his advice always and in case of difficulties, so that worldly life will be easier for us to go through. If we follow a saint as an ideal, we shall never come to harm. Having thus achieved contentment, we should also guide others to the means thereto.
One who yields himself up to a saint completely, need seek no other means for salvation. Unfortunate, indeed, is he who happens to meet a saint but turns away from him.
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April 18, 2009
Saints See Divinity even in Worldly Things
Everyone possesses the emotion of devotion, for, broadly speaking, devotion is nothing but deep liking, or love. Liking for worldly objects is due to body-consciousness; people instinctively like worldly objects, and are devoted to them. Unless this liking is diminished, devotion to God will not arise. So the first step in the bhakti-marga is to remember God’s name selflessly, without expectation of any fruit or reward. The last stage consists in being completely unaware of the body and of ‘self’. The body is to be preserved and protected for the sole purpose of attaining God. It is better to die than to live solely for passion and the pleasures of the senses.
All our religious festivals, like the birthdays of the divine incarnations and the anniversaries of the saints, aim at creating love for God. Even if we have no love for the divine to begin with, we seek to create it by making such offerings as we would to a living loved person. There is a reciprocal relation between love and such offerings. Such offerings bring us closer to God and enhance our love for Him. It is common for a mother to dress her child with the best clothes and trinkets she can afford, because she enjoys doing it, although the child itself may be feeling uncomfortable in them, and may even protest against them. Similarly we try to heap offerings on an icon of God for our own pleasure; otherwise, what does God lack or want?
Saints see the divinity even in sense-objects, whereas we seek sense-pleasures even in icons of the divinity. For instance, we praise the elegance of the sculpture of an idol, or the beautiful architectural design of a temple. Our mind being full of sensuousness, we notice even divine things from a sensuous viewpoint. On the other hand, the mind of a saint is all occupied with God, and so he sees God in everything. It is said that one can see God Rama on completing thirteen crores of japa of Rama-nama; this requires a dozen years or so to complete, if one spends ten to twelve hours every day in japa. With such intense longing and perseverance, one’s mind naturally becomes thoroughly charged with Rama.
Meditation on nama never goes waste; only, we should take care not to expend it on any material desire. Meditation on nama should be purely for the sake of nama itself.
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April 17, 2009
Saints Remind us that We Belong to God
When doing anything, the purpose for which we do it is clearly in the mind. Similarly, while meditating on nama we should ever be alive to the object of doing it. To remember at all times that we really belong to God, and neither to the body nor to sensual, worldly matters, is to maintain His awareness constantly. We actually belong to Him, but lapse into the illusion that we are of the palpable world. The saints reawaken us to the reality, and this, indeed, is their true mission. The panacea they prescribe is meditating on nama, which, in effect, is a persistent reminder that we belong to God and not to worldly pleasures.
You say that you want to see Rama, but how would you recognize Him even if He were to present Himself to you? To that purpose, you must annihilate the present distance between Him and yourself, and must be able to identify Him. This needs absolute purity of heart, that is, of feeling. One may perform different types of devotional disciplines and exercises, but they will all come to nought in the absence of genuine, loving devotion for Him. These disciplines will undoubtedly create devotion in course of time, but spiritual efforts performed with devotion will expedite the attainment of the goal. Of the nine kinds of devotional-disciplines, complete dedication is the simplest and the most important. If we completely surrender ourselves to God, whatever we do automatically gets dedicated to Him.
It is necessary for everyone to see wherein lies his weal. Others can advise about the path, but it is upto the person himself to act. The real cause of our “bondage” is not the environment but our own mental attitude. It is only nama that can be practised irrespective of time, state, or circumstances. To be able to preserve one’s contentment under any condition is really God’s total grace.
By devout contemplation of God one automatically acquires occult powers which, however, are considered despicable. So we should meditate on God, but ignore these powers and never use them. Our meditation should be for God’s sake only, without adulteration by desire. The saints never put their powers to use; being merged in the Supreme Being, they completely resign everything to Its will. When they do appear to be performing miracles, they are only prompted by that Supreme Being.
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April 16, 2009
Benefit from Association with a Saint
If it is a job we seek, we approach one who can provide it; similarly if it is realization of God that we seek, we must go to a saint. The saints alone can help us realize God. The essence of their existence is not to be sought in their physical being but in their precept. Their heart is free of passion, attachment, and desires. They keep awake and alert while we are asleep, just like the night–watchman who patrols the city streets. It is then that they test and judge our mental tendencies.
A woman delivered a child, but it started having epileptic fits, and would just lie listlessly in its cradle. It would not grow normally, smiled but feebly, and was not at all playful. The mother felt very sad to see the child’s condition. The guru feels precisely like that about a disciple who makes no progress in spiritual practice. On the other hand, he feels elated if the disciple shows some progress, and will fondle and indulge him to no end.
A saint is hardly ever well spoken of in his lifetime. For one person that he uplifts spiritually, there are a dozen of his relatives and worldly ‘well-wishers’ who blame the saint for ‘misguiding’ that person. Spiritual books often enumerate the characteristic qualities of a saint; but these are stated in order for us to imbibe and practise, not for putting a saint to test.
Association with a saint is fraught with three kinds of risks: (1) One learns to prattle, but only like a parrot, about spiritualism, (2) one gets undeserved respect from others, and (3) one’s behaviour becomes irresponsible, in the mistaken belief that the saint will condone everything and will indulgently uphold him. If properly availed of, however, three benefits can be derived from such association: (1) The person may be respected but will himself remain above any expectation of such respect, (2) he may not be able to prattle about spiritualism but will automatically imbibe and practise the principles, and (3) association with a saint with genuine faith and devotion will automatically lead him to the spiritual goal even without practising any spiritual discipline. Therefore, one who lives with a saint should passively obey the saint, should not expect respect from others, and should suppress all urge to talk about spiritualism. Implicit obedience to a saint is an excellent means to spiritual uplift.
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April 15, 2009
Saintly Association Eliminates Lure of Money
Saints, having attained omnipotence, have tremendous power of all kinds; for instance, whatever they say will come out true. This is called wachasiddhi, and we, too, may acquire it. To make use of it, however, will be foolish, like serving God for a meagre mundane remuneration. Imagine a person owning the wish-granting cow (kamadhenu) exchanging her for a pony because he would not load the divine cow! Where is the sense in propitiating the Almighty for the sake of paltry, transitory things? Even the hard-earned heaven and its pleasures are not permanent; then why strive for them at all?
Just see how much attachment a man feels for even a lifeless thing like money! It is like the ghost in the fable which agreed to slave for a man on condition that it be kept constantly employed, but if given respite it would devour him. Similarly, money can be very usefully employed; but if not, it becomes a crushing, consuming burden. There is basically nothing wrong in saving money; but it should not be taken as our mainstay, for that would make us lose sight of God, who is our real sheetanchor. I do not suggest that we should give away all we have; but if, say, there is a theft or robbery or other loss of money, we should not shed tears over it, nor should we turn away a needy person; we should not hesitate to help him to whatever extent we can.
It is true that we must save sufficient money for a rainy day; but how much is ‘sufficient’? We cannot name a definite sum in this respect. If one has a pension sufficient for the needs of the family, that could be termed ‘enough’. For a non-pensioner, there should be enough to enable the family to live decently for about a score of years. One does not need very much money to be ‘rich’; if we have enough money to fulfil our needs, are we not rich? Of course, we should spare no effort to earn money by moral means; but beyond that, we should let things take their own course.
Our true welfare lies in keeping company with the saintly. Association with them generates lofty thoughts and noble feelings. To live among persons of high thinking and in constant awareness of God is to be in good company.
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April 14, 2009
Saints Rouse us to the True Goal of Life
That the company of a sensuous person is more pernicious than that of sensuous pleasures themselves, holds in regard to the spiritual path just as well as in worldly life. Association always affects the mind; therefore we should try to live in the company of the Godly. Our conscience does guide us in picking the good from the bad, but the trouble is that we seek to reform others and not ourselves.
Many people just do not feel it possible that saints can exist in the world. We cannot make out a saint unless we ourselves believe in and have regard for God. We have forgotten the true goal of our life; the saints rouse us to it. Seeing us following the wrong path, they caution and guide us; we should then turn about, retrace our steps, and follow the correct path; we can rest assured that we shall then reach our destination.
The saints do not rest inactively after they attain blissfulness; they continue to act for the welfare of the world, while their own blissfulness remains unimpaired. Even when they appear to be inactive, their mere presence makes for the good of the world. Since they have attained beatitude it behoves us to act as they advise us. In advising people their sole object is to see that mankind may come to know the truth they have themselves seen, and thereby become happy. How can we doubt the verity of their advice when they have no ulterior selfish motive to serve?
When we realise that worldly life is full of misery, we must strive to find a remedy. That remedy we discover in the books written by saints, and we should put into practice what they have advised therein. That alone makes the reading worthwhile. Introspection on what we read is essential. Reading must be accompanied by its practice.
We shall not be able to understand properly the works of a saint without his grace. One on whom the saint bestows his grace will very easily and correctly grasp the gist of the book even though he may not be learned. A learned man will describe the Ultimate Truth, exercising his imagination; whereas the saints describe it with certainty, as a matter of first-hand experience.
When reading a book by a saint, we should bear in mind that we have to bring it into our practice.
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April 13, 2009
Saints and Their Books
The knowledge which the saints possess is so subtle, penetrating and comprehensive, that they easily grasp the essence or the purport of the vedas and their philosophy. They may perhaps not be able to say who wrote a certain treatise, or when, or where, or what appears on such and such a page, but the gist of all books is certainly in their ken. Common people like us often just read the words in a saint’s writing; but the real gist can only be understood by the saint’s grace; by ourselves, we can understand it no better than the comprehension of the father’s message which a child may convey to the mother in its own lisping words.
The saints write books to enable ‘intelligent’ readers to convince themselves and progress on the spiritual path. We should not try to interpret their words in a strained or far-fetched manner, but just accept them straightforwardly. We should read without prejudice or preconceptions, for a clear understanding; just as overwriting makes the original illegible, preconceptions muddle understanding; so our reading should be with a clear, unprejudiced mind.
Books like the Jnyaneshwari and Dasabodh should be read with close attention, just as a letter from a person near and dear to us is read most attentively down to the last little syllable, as addressed to us in a personal capacity. Many people go to listen to discourses just because it is a social vogue, or as an entertainment, or as something to kill time with. Few, indeed, are those who read saints’ books really to find out what they ought to do, and act accordingly. More read them out of blind reverence because they were written by saints; while the majority do not care to read them at all.
People in general usually disregard God and spiritual values; we go to a saint to learn how to go counter to this common trend. Saints have an awareness of the body only to the extent necessary in practical life; otherwise they treat the body as no better, no truer, than a mere shadow. It is not sense to grieve for ‘pain’ to a shadow, and therefore the saints are unaffected by the body’s pains and pleasures.
Many persons unrelated to a saint or unremunerated by him, voluntarily labour for him or for those who visit him; this they do because of his divine love for them.
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